two hotels: one reaches up, one reaches out

A tale of two cities: On one end, Shanghai, who’s ready to step out of Beijing’s architectural shadow with some record-breaking structures of its own. The showcase: the completion, after 14 (!) years, of the Shanghai World Financial Center — standing at 1,600 feet as the tallest building in China and the third tallest in the world. The Park Hyatt Shanghai has taken up shop in the 79th through 93rd floors of the 101-story skyscraper, just in time to welcome fans eager for another Roger/Rafa bout at the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

And down South, on Brazil’s Emerald Coast, the Ponta Dos Ganchos Resort is debuting five luxury seafront bungalows via an auction to benefit Instituto Guga Kuerten. The four new Emerald Villa Bungalows (2,455 sq. ft.) and one Special Emerald Villa Bungalow (3,210 sq. ft.), opening in the first week of December, feature dry saunas and jacuzzis with sea views, personal spa areas with massage tatamis, wine cellars, and private decks and plunge pools. The Special Emerald Villa Bungalow also includes an in-villa fitness center.

Bid: The silent auction for the PDG villas ends October 31, 2008. For more information, click here. One interesting note: “Cancellations are not accepted and are subject to total loss of payment as proceeds will be donated directly to Instituto Guga Kuerten.”

Book: See room rates (plus, on the landing page, a view from the hotel out to Shanghai) at the Park Hyatt website.

(via UD; screengrabs from each property’s website)

flashback: tennis masters cup, 2004 (houston)

I was looking for old tennis photos online, and I ran into these pictures taken of the nine guys (including the alternate) who descended upon Houston for the Tennis Masters Cup in 2004.

The Argentines: Guillermo Canas and Gaston Gaudio

The boys: Andy Roddick and Guillermo Coria

The daddies (DILFs?): Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman

The ILFs: Marat Safin and Carlos Moya

and Roger Federer

Roger beat Lleyton in straight sets — 6-3, 6-2 — to take his 11th title of 2004 and his second consecutive year-end title.

(photos by Getty Images)

kolya wants a tan!!

nikolay davydenko

What a difference a year makes. Here’s a photo of Nikolay Davydenko at the end of 2006 without a care in the world: he’d just gotten married to Irina, he finished the year at number three, and added four singles titles to his trophy case.

Whodathunk that a year later he’d be embroiled in a nasty match-fixing scandal and get unfairly slapped with a fine for tanking? None of this helped Kolya as he compiled a dismal 1-2 record at the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup (losing to Roddick and Federer). But with one of the tanking fines reversed — and a win over Fernando Gonzalez (involving some fine net play) — the Russian seemed to end his 2007 on a high note. Happy, tired, relieved, and not at all disappointed with his Shanghai play.

Here are some other things Kolya shed light on during the interview after his match with Gonzo:

On his commitment to play the Beijing Olympics –happening in the middle of the U.S. Open Series — in light of his announcement of a lighter tourney schedule in 2008. (Even though Kolya’s style of play is easy on his body, his 2007 playing schedule wasn’t):

“You know, tough questions. Yes, because normally you play for the country, for the Russia. Doesn’t matter where is it Olympic Games in Shanghai, Australia. You need to fly. We fly from America, Cincinnati. Try to prepare, try to play very good in China, and then come back to America. It’s pretty tough. Pretty tough flight. But we try the best.”

And on his post-TMC break in the Maldives:

“For me it’s important I try mentally to recovery and, you know, to be a little bit brown. My color changing (smiling). And then, you know, it’s my happy face coming to Davis Cup final.”

We can’t wait to see your tan, Nikolay. And love it while it lasts — something tells me that Portland’s gloom will suck all the color right back out!

FYI: The Davis Cup World Group Final between Russia and the United States will take place in Portland, Ore. from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007.

(photo by Getty Images)

the perils of round robin

Humility at the top

For as many perks allowed by reaching the year-end top eight of men’s tennis — the glory, the attention, the serious cash, not to mention those crazy year-ending suits — participating in the Tennis Masters Cup (Shanghai) also has a potential downside: losing multiple matches in a week.

In fact, the round-robin draw makes it so a few players have to lose two matches in the week. There’s even a chance that at least one formerly-confident fellow will take an ego beat-down and lose three. I recall Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 walking off the court humbled and frustrated after losing his third (and final) match. More recently, Guillermo Coria racked up consecutive 0-3 TMC records — in ’04 and ’05.

This year, thanks to Kolya squeaking out a round-robin win over the spent Gonzo, the 0-fer honor went to Nole Djokovic. If it weren’t for the signs of burnout that Novak had coming into the Masters Cup, he’s about the last player of the octet you’d expect to get served a big slice of that humbling pie.

Novak put up a good fight in each performance — and he had his overzealous stage parents cheering him on — so I’m pretty sure the showman and athlete we got to know this year hasn’t disappeared. Something tells us that after some rest in a place “far, far away from everybody”, he’ll come out alright in ’08.


Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the
Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

trophy watch: all roger, all the time

roger federer - trophy - shanghai 2007

Even with Roger Federer‘s late-2007 hiccup (which saw him lose back-to-back matches for the first time since 2003), the Swiss and World No. 1 came out on top this year.

He beat sixth seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to win his fourth Tennis Masters Cup title in five years.

federer - mercedes c-class - shanghai

Another record: Roger collected $1.2 million and a Mercedes-Benz C-Class for the win, putting his 2007 prize money pot at $10 million plus — an ATP record.

roger federer - trophy - shanghai 2007

Earlier in the week, Federer also picked up another trophy by clinching the year-end No. 1 spot for the fourth year in a row.

See a photo of Ferrer (plus doubles winners) after the cut…

focus: qizhong stadium

qi zhong stadium

Since 2005, Shanghai has hosted the Tennis Masters Cup, the ATP Tour’s year-end tournament. It wasn’t lost on TSF that the facility, completed in October ’05, was erected specifically for this purpose.

Scorelines: Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer have reached the semifinals from the Gold Group. Had Ferrer not routed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-1, the Frenchman would be in the semis instead of Rafa. Meanwhile, the Red Group semis are still up in the air, with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, and Fernando Gonzalez still in contention. Barring injury withdrawals from these three, Nikolay Davydenko is officially out of the tournament.

FYI: The Shanghai Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center is located in the Minhang District, southwest of the city. The environmentally-conscious design was the brainchild of architect Mitsuru Senda and his Environment Design Institute (EDI). “In many cases, sports facilities involve very big spaces,” says EDI’s design policy, “and it is therefore necessary to consider closely just what influence they will have on the surrounding environment.”

From this philosophy came a 15,000-seat arena considered the largest tennis venue in Asia. A bird’s-eye view of the arena’s roof shows a peony, which is an homage to the country’s national (favorite) flower. The roof, capable of withstanding typhoon-strong winds, consists of eight retractable “petals” which take 8 minutes to retract or cover the stadium.

qi zhong stadium

See more photos of the stadium (plus a virtual tour) after the cut…

clement to 2007: peace out!

arnaud clement 2007

Arnaud Clement and his doubles partner Michael Llodra (not pictured) have not been doing so well post-season; their seventh-seeded pairing lost all three of their round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, first to Knowles and Nestor 2-6, 7-5, 10-5, then to Dlouhy and Vizner 3-6, 6-3, 10-5, and finally to Aspelin and Knowles 6-3, 7-5.

Have a good vacay and we’ll see you rowdy Frenchmen in 2008!

(photos by Getty Images)

the masters cup without its gaucho

Let there not be any doubt that the real story (and prologue) of this year’s Tennis Masters Cup is David Nalbandian’s absence, a matter well-noted by NYT’s Chris Clarey.

I, for one, can forgive him for not making the schlep from Argentina to Shanghai — a trip which would have demanded a minimum of 32 hours travel time from Buenos Aires, one way — to be the first alternate. True, he won the Cup as an alternate in ’05, but he’s just won two Masters Series events in less than 3 weeks; why risk jet lag if all he’s going to do is keep the bench warm (Tommy Robredo is doing a mighty fine job of doing so, by the way)? This way, Nalbandian gets to end his 2007 season on a high note.

This year’s eight-man draw seems to be missing an ingredient -– a sauce, or perhaps some spices -– to make things interesting. Despite the close contest between Roddick and Davydenko, I slogged through it impatiently. Maybe there’s more to be said for style — both in fashion and play -– than some (at least those not familiar with this blog) may think. Without a stylist to counter their respectively stiff presences, there’s little flavor to find here.

The exception, of course, was the match between Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez, a battle so moist, it needed extra bread to soak up all the sauce. Once the inevitable (Federer taking his 11th straight win over Fernando) turned into the impossible (Gonzo upsetting in three sets), the whole Cup has taken on a vastly different tone. It hasn’t hurt that the ATP’s latest darling, Nole Djokovic, has also stumbled.

There’s no sheriff in town now. Let’s see who can find their gun.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

the terracotta warriors unveiled in shanghai

Those amazing terracotta warriors of the eight men playing at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai were unveiled on Sunday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. (local) at Qi Zhong Stadium.

terracotta warriors - tmc shanghai - 2007

Photographer Quentin Shih took this photo above of the players — that’s David Ferrer, Nole Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nands Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Rafa Nadal, Richard Gasquet, and Andy Roddick — standing next to their likenesses.

laury dizengremel commission - terra cotta warriors

Artist Laury Dizengremel, commissioned to work on these pieces, wrote to TSF two weeks ago from China.

“This [project] is a very exciting commission,” she said. “I’ve been to China 16 times over the last 6 years (am here right now creating the last few ‘heads’ as they qualify, working with two Chinese sculptor friends). I have made several monumental sculptures as a guest of the government, toured the country extensively for research, and love China!”

See close-ups of the players next to their warriors after the cut…

wearing red didn’t help their luck

The slippery slides of Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko couldn’t be helped by the good luck, in Chinese culture, brought by wearing red. Both are playing in their first round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai this week.

nikolay davydenko and roger federer - shanghai

Andy Roddick (in Lacoste) beat Kolya (in white/red Airness) in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 match. The American (is that ok with you, Shain?) had a second-set blip that left him throwing down his racquet, but found his mojo in time to make a run of five straight games in the third set to go up 5-1.

Meanwhile, R-Fed suffered his first back-to-back loss since Hamburg/Roland Garros in 2003. This year, he lost in the third round of the Paris Masters Series to David Nalbandian, and in this first round-robin match in Shanghai against Fernando Gonzalez, who notched his first win against Federer in 11 tries. The scoreline: 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5.

(photos by Getty Images)